Assistant Professor of Psychology



Ph.D., Brigham Young University, 2012

Applied Social Psychology

M.S., Brigham Young University, 2010

General Psychology

B.S., Brigham Young University, 2008


B.A., Brigham Young University, 2008


Research Interests

I primarily research the social influences on people’s understanding of other people in two specific areas.  First, I research how people understand another person’s perceived freely chosen behavior and how the context influences these attributions.  Second, I research how people understand God through their experiences with God and other people, including parents.

I am also interested in the philosophical foundation of psychology as a science.  In particular, I use the phenomenological/post-modern perspective of Emmanuel Levinas to understand the importance of each person’s responsibility to the other person in their lives.  This responsibility extends from our personal life into psychologists’ professional lives in the form of relationships with students, research assistants, therapeutic clients, and research participants.  I am particularly interested in how this responsibility for the other person influences research practices in psychology.


Peer-Reviewed Articles 

Downs, S. D. Reber, J., & Hansen, D. (in preparation). Comparing Students’ God attachment at Religious and Secular Universities.

Reber, J., Downs, S. D., & Wilson, G. (in preparation). An Examination of the Impact of Teaching Epistemologies on Academic Performance.

Downs, S. D. (in preparation). The Actor-Observer Effect and Perceptions of Agency: The Options of Obedience and Pro-Social Behavior.

Downs, S. D. (2013). Levinasian Insights into Relational Healing. American Journal of Bioethics: Neuroscience, 4(2), 17-18.

Downs, S. D., Gantt, E. E., & Faulconer, J. (2012). Levinas, meaning, and an ethical science of psychology:Scientific inquiry as rupture. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 32(2), 69-85.

Reber, J. S., Slife B. D., & Downs, S. D. (2012). A tale of two theistic studies: Illustrations and evaluations of a potential program of theistic psychological research. Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, 23, 191-212.

Wilkerson, J., Yamawaki, N. & Downs, S. D. (2009). The effects of husbands’ migration on mental health and gender role ideology in rural Mexican women. Health Care for Women International, 30(7), 612-626.

Book Chapters 

Downs, S. D. (2012). A phenomenologically informed theory of self-observation: Intra-spection as hermeneutic reduction on the self. In J. W. Clegg (Ed.), Self Observation in the Social Sciences. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction.


Title of Project: The Actor-Observer Effect and Perceptions of Agency: The Options of Obedience and Pro-social Behavior

Role in Project: Sole Recipient, Primary Investigator

Funding Agency: Graduate Studies, Brigham Young University

Title of Award: BYU Graduate Research Fellowship Award

Amount: $15,000.00

Granted: 2011

Classes Taught 

Introduction to Psychology

Development across the Lifespan


Psychological Statistics

Writing in Psychology

Psychology of Religion